Thursday, May 29, 2008


I wish I could find the right word to describe what I saw in Parkersburg. It has to be one of the most overwhelming sight I've ever seen. Definitely the worst tornado damage I've seen covering bad weather in seven years in Iowa. I do remember seeing a horrible aftermath in Oklahoma City in the late 90s. It seemed like that damage was even more widespread. But both are just mind boggling.

I can't imagine what it's like for the people of Parkersburg. Imagine losing her home. Some lost family members, too. They lost their vehicles. They lost their businesses. So they have no place to live, nothing to drive and no place to work. How do they not just collapse and sob?

One of the most telling sites I saw was what used to be an empty field. Now it's become a junkyard that keeps growing. It has more than 200 vehicles. Although, vehicles isn't the right word anymore. They are just scraps. Mangled scraps. Each vehicle has some items in it. They may or may not actually be items from the owners of the vehicles. With the way the storm hit, there's hardly any way to tell. I found the insurance card in one from one of the men who died. It took our breath away. We didn't know how to react. I found a broken fishing pole in one. Wedding reception napkins in another. A wedding invitation in another. There was a flattened stroller. It is just incomprehensible the damage to these vehicles. Each one looks like the result of the worst traffic accident you've ever seen. Except there wasn't just one.

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